Whoa. Okay, I’ve been back in Palangkaraya for long enough now, and have been putting off writing this blog because once I do it means vacation is really over. Lombok is amazing, and I was able to do/see a lot of the island through the generosity of some new friends. Much of my vacation was spent motorbiking around with my friend Dedi- in true Indonesian style, just “jalan jalan” without a schedule or even necessarily a plan for the day! The only thing we knew for sure was that it would involve seeing some of the most beautiful places in the island and at least one stop for coffee 🙂 Here’s the rundown of what I did every day:
Day 1: This was my day to explore Senggigi. I woke up in the morning and went to the beach, where you could see across the way to Bali. Senggigi is a normal beach town; a little bit touristy but still a piece of “real Indonesia” (as opposed to the Gilis, which I’ll get to). The beach was filled with locals because it was still school holidays here, and it was nice just to watch the kids play. I spent most of the day around the beach and walking along the main street. In the evening I went to a Hindu temple, called Pura Batu Bolong, which is known for its nice sunset views. I was befriended by some young people who were at the temple to pray, and they invited me to pray with them. It was really interesting to see their rituals. After that I got into conversation with another man, who invited me to eat dinner with his family at the temple. They were very interested to hear all about America and what I am doing in Indonesia, and it was nice of them to share their food with me. In the evening I drank some local wine made of (what else?) rice with some of the guys from the hotel… yum!
Day 2: This day we went to see two waterfalls in Central Lombok. They are still quite unknown by Western tourists, so again it was mostly Indonesian families and teenagers just out to enjoy the day there. The walk to the first waterfall was quick, only 10 minutes, but then the second one was a bit further away and the walk more challenging. But, the views were worth it! It was also New Years Eve, and we went down the the party on the beach in the evening… after which I fell asleep at approximately 12:30 am. But hey, at least I was awake to see 2013 arrive!
Day 3: Kuta Lombok! Kuta is a huge beach/party town in Bali, and it has a much more chill counterpart in South Lombok. It was a rainy day on the road and we left a bit late (enjoying New Years morning), plus added a stop for coffee and to visit Dedi’s friends, so we didn’t get to Kuta until about 3:30. The town itself was quite nice, with more tourists than in Senggigi, and the beaches were amazing! Some of the most picturesque I’ve ever seen.
Day 4: Another rainy day in Senggigi, another day spent jalan-jalaning. We biked up the northern coast from Senggigi, where there are several amazing spots to stop and overlook the ocean, Gili islands in the distance, and mountains of Lombok. The end goal of all this driving was Pusuk Monkey Forest, which is basically some forest on a hill that is full of macaques. I’ve seen my fair share of macaques, so it wasn’t as magical for me to see as for other people, but they’re still pretty funny little animals. The rest of the day was spent just hanging around the hotel and relaxing.
Day 5: Just a boring day in Senggigi! We wanted to go to the Gili islands this day, but it was too rainy, so we hung around the hotel and then walked around the beach later on.
Day 6: Today we went to the Gili islands- Gili Trawangan, to be specific. The Gilis are a group of three islands in NE Lombok, between the main island and Bali, so they are one of the more touristy spots around. It was weird to see SO MANY white people- and I’m going to rant for a minute here. Gili T was beautiful, and I can see why people want to spend time there, but they’re fooling themselves if they think that’s the real Indonesia. I kind of felt like I was walking around Florida or somewhere else, because everything was pretty developed, and there were more Western food places than nasi warungs! At one point we walked for 20 minutes or so and only saw a handful of Indonesian people. That being said, the Gilis are worth a trip, and next time I’m definitely going to go snorkelling and see the other two islands.
Day 7: Today was one of the most interesting days of my trip- somehow I got roped into teaching an English lesson for a group of people who want to learn to be guides at the waterfalls. So, back to central Lombok we went… I was nervous, but turns out they just wanted me to give a pep talk to get these students excited about learning English. It was kind of tricky to figure out what to say, but luckily everyone was supportive and interested in what I had to say. Lots of the students had questions but were too nervous to ask, I think, which is kind of ironic considering how nervous I was to be talking to a group of native Indonesian speakers! After the talk we took a walk through some of the rice terraces in the area.
Day 8: The last day in Lombok! There was nothing else to do but jalan-jalan again, and we drove back to Kuta to take in the sunset. On the way home we stopped at a nondescript warung in Mataram, where I had one of the best meals of my stay, and then again at the hotel one of my friends cooked special nasi goreng as a going away meal. My flight was very early the next morning and I had to leave for the airport at 4:15 am- not a very nice end to the trip, but I guess I had to return to the “real world” some time!
All in all, Lombok was a fantastic place to go on vacation, and it was so nice to make local friends. There’s really no other way to experience a place. I’m really lucky to be able to speak the language, because it makes travelling so much easier. But, I would definitely recommend a trip here to anyone; there’s still so much of the island that I didn’t see and I’m sure it’s squally amazing. Hopefully there’s a next time….
Now I’m off to camp today for a few days- not sure how long, but it’s time to get my forest legs back. Fingers crossed that it’s not too painful! Sampai nanti, all.